Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Is the PGA Tour or European Tour now more important to McIlroy, Westwood?

One year has passed since Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood adamantly stated that they would not, under any circumstances, join the PGA Tour, deciding instead to support the growth of the European Tour. This year both golfers have changed their tunes and are accepting membership in the PGA Tour. Why? Can the Euro Tour thrive without them as full-time supporters?

McIlroy's reasons to remain only on the Euro Tour in 2011 were selfish to some degree using excuses that he was helping to grow the Tour and that he wanted to stay closer to home. The schedule was longer and tiresome on the PGA Tour, and money could not buy a golfer happiness.

Now that Rory's attachments to a former longtime girlfriend has been severed and a new connection has been made with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy has decided it important to match his girlfriend's ranking. It's interesting to see what gets this 22-year-old golfer's juices flowing. Money? Not necessarily. Girlfriend? Top player on Tour? Definitely!

McIlroy confirmed earlier this year, "She's number one in the world and I've got a major, and we sort of both want what each other have. It's a big goal of mine. I want to become the best player in the world."

Westwood used a blend of sentiments: he was forced to sit on his couch and pine away while the Players Championship took place and also complained that he never took place in FedEx Cup events.
McIlroy and Westwood's change of sentiments are a far cry from last year's outbursts but perhaps it's time for both the PGA Tour and Euro Tour to work together in order to make schedules fit for all of the A-level players while improving the visibility of upcoming stars. This way, golf fans will get to see new talent as well as a wide variety of European and PGA Tour standouts.

On the "top end" of both Tours, talent is pretty much equal. Looking past the top-100, golfers don't get as much exposure as they should in order to give them opportunities to be seen and get into the mix.

Luke Donald has been making waves on the PGA Tour and now McIlroy and Westwood have also decided it important to chase glory. With Tiger Woods back in action for the PGA Tour 2012 season, it looks as if the European Tour once again will fall to the sidelines for golf fans. Great talent like Oosthuizen and the 2012 Race to Dubai will certainly pale in comparison to a possible Tiger Woods, McIlroy duel on Sunday during a major tournament.

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photo credit: PGATour.com


Gerry Wendel said...

Personal lives are always going to be a factor in decision making regarding some careers. Let's just hope that it all works out the best for the players.

Golf for Beginners said...

And people should always be able to change their minds!

Golfgal said...

Seeing Luke win top dog honors on both tours in 2011 makes me wonder if that's driving Rory and Lee as well to this side of the pond. I expect they'll try to match that.

I'll never give up watching the European Tour even if they leave. I really enjoy it and the courses they play. And hey...Jimenez is still there :)

CrossGolfProsBlog said...

I think if the money comes back, they may do what the ATP/WTA tennis tours do and just have a world tour. Something that hops on North America, South, Europe, Africa...etc.

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